As it turns out, no matter how hard you try to tick everything off your to-do list in one day, you’ll come up short every time. C’est la vie, as the saying goes. So, there’s no point in dwelling on it. What you can do is improve your time management, set your priorities, and use the time you have to accomplish them.
If you’re thinking – it’s easier said than done, we’ve prepared a list of best time management tips for work that will prove you wrong. After all, the whole point of time management is to work smarter, not harder. So let’s have a look at how to put this skill into practice.
1. Out with the multitasking, in with the single-tasking
The fact is, multitasking is a myth. And it’s high time to debunk it and stop wearing it as a badge of honor. Multitasking, as several studies have shown, is not actually about getting more done. Instead, it’s about splitting your attention and reducing your productivity and overall performance. As Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson said: “Multitasking is the art of doing twice as much as you should half as well as you could.”
Keep in mind – not every task needs your full attention. The key is to recognize those that do. Instead of trying to do everything at once and on your own, focus on giving the tasks and your coworkers your undivided attention. But be patient. The skill of single-tasking doesn’t come overnight. Remember, practice makes perfect. Try limiting other distractions and focus only on the task at hand. In time, you’ll see how single-tasking actually enhances your productivity. And once you master it, you’ll never go back to your old ways and unproductive multitasking.
2. Seize the workday
Make the most of your workday by getting into the zone of productivity. Let’s not forget – timing is everything. So if you want to find out what’s the best time to work on tasks you want to accomplish, take into account your chronotype, i.e., your internal clock. Bear in mind that your internal clock doesn’t only dictate your sleep cycle. In fact, it impacts what time of day you’re most focused, creative, and productive. Once you understand how your body and mind work and start using that insight to schedule your daily tasks, your productivity will ramp up. Make the most of it by performing specific tasks at specific hours. This will particularly come in handy if you’re working flexible hours or remote. Sync your internal clock to your daily schedule, stop being busy and start being productive!
3. Embrace automation – the key to workplace happiness
Have no fear of automation and give credit where credit’s due. The whole point of automation is not to make you redundant but to facilitate your day-to-day tasks. Chances are you probably already have a lot on your plate as it is, so why not let technology help you out in your long and hectic workdays. Make sure you’re using your existing digital tools to the full and, at the same time, make your tasks easier to complete. Embrace automation, effectively manage your workload, and get more done in less time!
4. TO-DO: Clear your to-do list
We all tend to get carried away when making our to-do lists. Everything seems doable, and adding one more item to the list doesn’t seem like much of a problem. But reality soon kicks in, and you start feeling like your head’s underwater. Well, that’s because it probably is.
That’s why it’s highly recommended to revise your to-do lists regularly. When you get to do it – show no mercy and ruthlessly clear it out. After all, who has enough time to get everything done? So try limiting yourself to 3 to 5 tasks daily and avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. Save both your time and your mental energy. The most important thing to remember is – there’s only so much you can do in a day.
5. Reset before you restart
Do you ever feel guilty about taking regular breaks from work? If you do, well – don’t. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that taking a pause is a waste of time because it’s not. In fact, it’s absolutely crucial for your mental reset. Not only will it help you keep your energy levels up, but it will also improve your concentration and focus, which will, in turn, save your time when you move on to the next project.
Make sure to recharge your brain when you feel drained and avoid getting your health broken down under the strain of overwork. Stop blaming yourself for taking some time off and allow yourself regular breaks. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself. Prepare a healthy meal, go out for a walk, get a breath of fresh air or turn on your favorite TV show. Go on, get some rest. You’ve earned it.
6. Choose your meetings wisely
Sure, meetings are a great way to share and exchange information, especially if you’re working in a team. However, they can also be a massive waste of time. Honestly, how many meetings, to which you were invited to, you actually need to attend? So if you really want to save time at work, unclog your calendar and increase your work productivity. If a meeting will help you accomplish your goals, go on and attend it, or be the one who will schedule it. Otherwise, write an email or a memo. Whatever you decide to do, just remember that time is your most valuable asset, so make sure not to waste it on endless or back-to-back meetings that could have definitely been an email.
7. Declutter your desktop and your mind
How much time a day do you spend looking for lost files and searching for information? Probably more than you’re willing to admit, right? Now, imagine for a second what your workday could look like if every document you needed were available in just a couple of clicks, in one location. Too good to be true? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. All you have to do is invest a few hours of your time in creating an effective filing system, both for your documents and your emails. Make sure the system is simple to follow; otherwise, you’ll be the first who won’t stick to it for too long.
Keep your electronic files organized, make sure the info you need is ready at hand and stop wasting your valuable time. No doubt, detective work can be fun, but surely not while you’re on the clock.
8. Plan today for a better tomorrow
Plan ahead and end your working day with a list of goals for tomorrow. Write down all the main tasks for the following day and stick to them when the sun comes up. This way, you’ll be able to save time by structuring your workday and focusing on what really matters. If you want to go the extra mile and be more efficient, you can even allocate time for each task. For example, schedule your tasks based on importance, check your email at a designated time, or group similar tasks.
9. Learn to say no
One of the best productivity hacks is learning to say no. It’s incredible how much time you can save by simply saying no to all the things and tasks that don’t align with your priorities. Avoid overwhelming yourself for no good reason. Instead, set boundaries and draw the line. Don’t risk burnout just because you don’t know how and when to say no to the extra workload. Saying no doesn’t make you rude, arrogant, or unhelpful; it only shows you know how to invest your time and energy more wisely.
10. Delegation is not abdication
Of course, we’ve saved the best for last. That’s how things work. If you’re looking for the key to success, you’ll find it in the delegation. Chances are you’ve worked hard to get to the position you currently hold in your company, and you don’t want to compromise it by delegating your tasks. If you’re refraining from it, it only means you missed the whole point of what delegation actually is. Delegating your tasks doesn’t mean you’re failing to fulfill your responsibilities or duties. On the contrary, it shows you’re able to identify the tasks that only you can do from those that are better suited for a member of your team.
Simply put, delegation is not a sign of weakness. It’s proof of your management skills. If you still haven’t, start delegating your tasks today. You’ll be amazed by how much time you can save by sharing the workload with your team. Concentrate on the assignments that need your set of skills and expertise, and let others do their share.
One thing’s for sure, we’ll never have enough time to do all the things we’d like to do. However, there are ways to spend less time on unimportant tasks and more time on the things we value. All it takes is good time management and learning to ask for help when you need it. Even if you don’t have the whole team of professionals working for you, there are things you can do to save time. Get in touch and find out how to get things done without wasting your valuable time.